Two tornadoes barreled through Tulsa and Moore, Oklahoma, on March 25-26, 2015, damaging more than 700 homes that were mostly located in Moore. The Moore tornado was classified as an EF2 and responsible for the death of four people.
Almost immediately, World Renew Disaster Response Services (DRS) was in communication with local and state recovery organizations to determine the extent of damage and how to best respond.
“Because we are connected at all levels of response and with so many other organizations, we were in touch with officials and responders in Tulsa and Moore within hours of the tornadoes,” says Mark and Carol Martin, regional managers for World Renew DRS. “In the first few days, it looked like the needs were being met locally and a DRS response would not be needed. However, after a week we all realized that there was more damage in the area than we originally thought, and World Renew DRS was asked to come in and help.”
The Martins met with local officials and other responding organizations in Tulsa and Moore to make further assessments and redefine the recovery needs and resulting activities. What they found was that a number of families in one particular area of Moore needed significant help.
To meet the need, a World Renew DRS rapid response team headed to Moore, Oklahoma, on Tuesday, April 7, to provide clean-up, debris removal, and home repair services.
World Renew DRS is partnering with a local organization called “Serve Moore” to identify those who will receive help from a DRS rapid response team. Regency Park Baptist Church in Moore is providing housing for these volunteers.
“There is a real beauty in community cooperation after a disaster,” says Mark Martin. “For example, the Regency Park Baptist Church building was destroyed by a tornado in 1999, and when they rebuilt, they pledged to always house disaster response volunteers because of the help they received in their time of need. We are thankful to be working with this congregation and Serve Moore.”
“There is a real
beauty in community
cooperation after a disaster.”
This two-week rapid response team is being funded by gifts given through the World Renew Gift Catalog. These critical funds, available before a disaster strikes, ensure that clean-up crews are deployed as early as possible. Thank you to everyone who gave a DRS gift item through the World Renew Gift Catalog. As a result, DRS is able to support families in need after the Oklahoma tornadoes.
Last month’s twister was not the first tornado to hit the town of Moore. In May 2013, a devastating EF5 tornado with 210 mph winds killed 24 people and injured 375 more. World Renew DRS was a part of that response as well and began participating in a storm-shelter pilot program that is providing a storm shelter in each damaged home in an area of the U.S. known as “tornado alley.” The area is prone to tornadoes, and storm shelters greatly reduce the potential for loss of life in future threats.
“We have been partnering with a number of other disaster response organizations in an effort to install storm shelters in homes in tornado alley,’” says Willett. “The day after the March 2015 tornadoes, a homeowner shared this note with us: ’My safe room was installed on March 17, and on March 25 my family had to use it as the Moore tornado went directly over our house. Our home was not damaged, but we were so thankful for our safe room. It was completed at just the right time. Thank you all so much!’ We trust there are many more families that will experience a greater sense of security because of them,” Willett says.
Although the March 25 tornado in Moore did not make national news headlines for long, the aftermath will impact the lives of those whose homes were damaged or destroyed for a long time. World Renew DRS is there in the name of Christ to help those who are not able to recover on their own.
Through the local recovery group in Moore, World Renew DRS is presenting the recovery services it can provide in the months to come—from construction estimates to unmet needs assessments and reconstruction services. These efforts, carried out by volunteers, are a valuable resource in meeting the disaster-related needs in the community. This includes determining the cost of reconstruction, identifying those in the community who need help, and repairing homes.
Will you help?
Your donation today to Spring Storms 2015 will not only help to support World Renew DRS’s current clean-up services in Moore as well as fund the long-term programs World Renew DRS offers.
Will you go?
If you are interested in helping disaster survivors across North America, see worldrenew.net/drs to fill out an application and get started. There are a wide variety of opportunities available.
Donate online or send your check marked "Spring Storms 2015" to:
World Renew US
2850 Kalamazoo Ave SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49560
World Renew Canada
P.O. Box 5070 STN LCD
Burlington, Ontario, L7R 3Y8
Photo: Workers from Rhema Church disaster team clean up after tornadoes touched down in River Oak Mobile Home Park in Sand Springs, Oklahoma March 26, 2015. About 15,000 homes and businesses in Oklahoma and Arkansas were without power on Thursday after tornadoes touched down in the states a day earlier, leaving at least one person dead and scores of structures damaged. REUTERS/Kathryn Piotrowski